Category: How-tos

Starbucks Rewards Program – Free Drinks, Food & Refills

At the base level of the Starbucks Rewards program is the Welcome Level. You qualify for this level just for signing up for the first 12 calendar months. The program is attached to you buying a Starbucks card and loading credit up on it to use to accumulate rewards. You can sign up free, but in order to get the most out of it, you’ll want to order a card or grab one in-store and link it to your account. You’ll earn one star per transaction when you use your Starbucks Rewards card.

How to Join Starbucks Rewards Program & Get FREE Stuff, Coffee & Treats

1. Get a Starbucks card for the Starbucks Rewards Program

(hint: ask for one for your birthday or as a present or grab one from Swagbucks for free!). You can also skip this step and move to step 2 if you use the app as your virtual card. You can also get discounted gift cards at Raise.

2. Sign up for Starbucks Rewards

Register your card online or with the Starbucks app (if you sign up using the link above, you’ll qualify for an ADDITIONAL FREE DRINK just for signing up as long as you accept email offers)

Just for Signing Up & Registering a Card!

A Free Drink of Your Choice
When you sign up and register a card – you’ll get a free drink of your choice on your birthday, just for signing up!


Welcome Level – 0-5 Stars:

A Free Birthday Beverage
Your choice of one (1) complimentary handcrafted beverage (standard Starbucks menu sizes only), OR one (1) complimentary food item; OR one (1) complimentary ready to drink bottled beverage such as Evolution Fresh™ juice at participating Starbucks® stores in celebration of your birthday. The offer for the free beverage or food item expires the day after your birthday. You must present your registered Starbucks Card to the barista at a participating store in order to redeem your Reward and receive your complimentary birthday item.

Get Free Drinks & BOGO Coupons
Personalized offers and coupons: Special offers may be distributed by email or by physical mail. You must opt-in to receive promotional and marketing offers from Starbucks and provide a valid email, telephone and physical address in order to receive your special offers.


Green Level – 5-29 Stars:

Welcome level rewards PLUS

Free Refills on Coffee & Iced Tea
This might be a big deal if you frequent Starbucks, especially as a spot for free wifi and getting some work done. You could plausibly camp there all day and get free refills. Though, you’d probably be too amped up to get any real work done.


Gold Level – 30+ Stars

Welcome level rewards + green level rewards, PLUS

Free Drink or Food Item after Each 12 Additional Stars
Once you reach the Gold Level, you will earn a free food or beverage item after every twelve (12) additional Stars. You may choose one (1) complimentary handcrafted beverage (standard Starbucks menu sizes); OR one (1) complimentary food item; OR one (1) complimentary ready to drink bottled beverage such as Evolution Fresh™ juice at participating Starbucks® stores; OR your choice of one (1) complimentary tea beverage (standard Teavana menu sizes); OR a complimentary 1-ounce serving of loose leaf tea at participating Teavana® stores. Your complimentary Reward will be automatically loaded onto your account and will be available to you for thirty (30) days.

Starbucks Rewards Tips

  • Ask for each transaction to be rung up separately, as each transaction is a star

Starbucks Savings Tips

  • If you use your own cup, you’ll get .10 cents off
  • If you buy a venti size, it’s the same as two talls and if you split between yourself and a friend with an additional cup, you’ll save $3-4 between the two of you!
  • Want an iced latte? Don’t order it with the milk. Instead order a few shots of espresso and pour the milk or half and half from the condiment bar. If you do this, you’ll save 50% or more on your drink.
  • Even if you don’t have Green Star status, you can get coffee or tea refills for $0.50.

Cut Your AT&T Mobile Bill in Half or More!

I’ve been researching how to cut my cell phone bill down.

With paying Comcast a negotiated $50 a month for internet and $130-170 a month for my AT&T cell phone, I think paying near $200 or more for access to data where ever I am is insane.

So… I started looking for other options. Since I currently have AT&T, I have to choose another GSM network – otherwise, I’d have to get a new phone too. What’s cool about Cricket is that it runs on the AT&T network, so there isn’t going to be that big of a difference in coverage. From my research, it’ll be a bit slower, but not noticeably. I’ll still be able to stream music and Netflix ‘n chill and whatnot.

And, I can take my number with me.

With Cricket, I can get a data and cell phone plan with unlimited talk and text, plus 8GB of ram for $45 a month (though, you can even get a 3GB contract for $35 a month), if I set up automatic payments (you save 5 bucks a month for doing that).

With my overages and insurance, I’m paying anywhere from $75-120 currently, but the thing is, I never go over 8 GB… just hover around it.

So get this – if I switch, I’ll save around $1,000 a year! That’s a plane ticket to almost anywhere in the world – just for being smart and spending an hour or less thinking through and enacting the logistics of the switch.

Check out the coverage map, if you need reassurance you’ll be connected where you are.

Here are the steps:

1. Do nothing with your AT&T contract and keep paying your bill
2. Check the eligibility of keeping your current phone
3. Choose a contract (I got the $50 one that $45 with discount)
4. Skip extras, you don’t need them
5. On the checkout page, you’ll need the $9.99 SIM card that’s in your cart, plus first months service, which will total $59.99 or $49.99 respectively, if you choose the 3GB plan. Your autopay discount of $5 will show up on the first bill.

As an alternative, but still a much cheaper option to regular AT&T, there’s also GoPhone, another prepaid provider of AT&T, which is $55 a month for 8GB with the discount, but should get you the level of service. This is still way less than the $100 I tend to pay per month for the same level of service. The advantage of GoPhone is that you’ll still get 4G coverage, so won’t see any speed difference as compared to Cricket.

COSTCO – How to Get Free Stuff & Shop Without Membership Card

Here’s the situation. If you love Costco, but don’t want to shell out the money to pay for an annual membership, there are a number of ways around it! And while you’re here, I’ll also show you how to get a free 30 days on Amazon Prime (6 months if you’re a student!).

1. If you use a Costco Cash Card, you’ll never have to pay for a membership

You have to get a family member or a friend to buy you a $50 or $100 (or really of ANY denomination) Costco Cash Card. The Costco Cash Card is exactly what it sounds like – and works just like a gift card. You can also find Costco Cash cards on eBay, but buyer beware.

You can get in the door with just the Cash Card (no need for membership) and you can pay for your goods, as long as you use your pre-loaded card. Once your card runs out, a friend or family member with a membership must reload it. This is especially useful if you only want to buy a few items a month like pizza, beer, wine, or toilet paper at Costco. It’s also great for buying gas, which is oftentimes .10-.15 cents per gallon cheaper than local competitors.

Convenient Cash Card features:

  • A convenient payment option in our warehouses, gas stations, and costco.com
  • No expiration date
  • Are rechargeable at any Costco warehouse location, but it can only be recharged by a member
  • Can be purchased in denominations from $25 to $1,000
  • A supply card or gas card for businesses
  • A means to provide students with money for food, gas, or school and dormitory necessities while being able to limit their spending
  • Balance can be accessed on costco.com, the warehouse “red kiosk” or by calling the toll-free number on the back of the card

2. You can shop with an existing Costco Member

  • With the first option (a Costco Cash Card), you can shop without another member and buy everything you need as long as you have enough credit on the card
  • If you don’t want to go through the trouble of getting a card and just want to pick up a few things, shop with a friend who has a membership and pays cash in a separate transaction from them. Sometimes, they might make you do one transaction and if that’s the case, just separate your goods and get a subtotal so that you can still pay in cash.

3. Shop for alcohol, in pharmacy, or at the optometry department

There are certain items that are mandated by state or federal law that cannot require you to have a membership.

  • Alcohol –You will need to inform a Costco employee that you will only be purchasing alcohol. Typically they will issue you a temporary pass which limits you from purchasing anything other than alcohol. You will need to pay with cash.
  • Pharmacy – The pharmacy does not require a Costco member.
  • Optometrist – Typically, the optometrists are independent, so you don’t need to be a member to see one.

4. Get a member to give you their 2nd card FREE

Regular Costco members are given a two-card membership, which isn’t limited to spouses. You can give the 2nd card to anyone. If your friend or family member already has a membership and hasn’t allocated their 2nd card, ask them for it! If they agree…. here’s what you do.

  • Head to the membership counter with your friend or family member who is an existing member and only has one card on the membership
  • Have your friend or family member request a 2nd card for you
  • Viola! Fill out a form, get your photo taken, and experience Costco membership!

If your friend or family member isn’t excited about just forking the 2nd card over to you, you could always agree to pay half of the membership fee, but remind them that the card they are not using is an untapped resource for someone else!

5. Shop on Costco.com

You don’t need a membership to shop on Costco.com anymore, but you will be hit with a 5% surcharge. If you’re buying something over $1,100 – get the membership and try to split the cost with someone for that 2nd card.

Coupon Wisely at Costco

Costco only accepts their own coupons, not manufacturers coupons from newspaper or those printed online, but you can use rebate apps! (see below)

Other Tips

  • You can shop at the Food Court if it’s outside and enjoy really cheap, unhealthy food. But hey, if you were planning on going to a fast food joint, you may as well eat here since it’s much less expensive. If the Food Court is inside, just let the clerk know that you’d like to check out the store without a membership. But make sure you bring cash for the Food Court as that’s all they’ll take!
  • Use the Costco Cash Card to buy gas (it’ll save you a lot over time)!
  • Costco refills ink cartridges for $7.49 (how’s that for savings?!)

7 Ways to Save Money Cooking & Have Fun

I don’t know who doesn’t want to save money cooking and have a great time! I certainly do. Check out these 7 tips, which include apps to download, ways to save money on groceries, tools to pair drinks with meals, and ways to learn how to cook without breaking the bank. Again, though, you should still be able to eat like a foodie and enjoy yourself, while living on a frugal budget. Stay tuned – we’ll show you how!

1. Duh… Coupons!

There are a million places to get coupons these days. There are printable ones, virtual and electronic coupons, cash back options, rewards programs. Ack… who has time for all of that?! We do. Why? Because it’s fun and challenging to see how much money we can save. Use coupons.com to print valuable coupons that can land you free grocery items and pair that with ibotta, Target printables, free weekly item at Kroger, and SavingStar. Also, I know you guys visit the mommy blogs that tell you where to get freebies with Smart Source or Red Plum inserts that come in the Sunday paper – well, pick these coupons up for super cheap online and get them overnight, buy individual coupons if you know exactly what you want (I recommend this), or find 25 ways to get them free so that you can get 10 free items instead of just one!

2. Ready Set Eat

Choose your main ingredient from types of meats all the way to vegetarian. You’ll notice a vegetarian example in the image above, as I’m veggie. These recipes are super to make, fast, and full of colorful pictures – many recipes you probably haven’t seen before. And the other fun part is that you can click the “find ingredients on sale” by zip code option and see where you can find everything for the best price! It doesn’t always work, but it’s a great way to spot where you can get stuff.

3.  Grocery Pal & Grocery King Apps

Grocery Pal (available on iPhone) will allow you to easily make grocery lists, check sales in all local stores, and print coupons right from the app, including the ability to add the items to your digital list. I wish the app would tell you where to buy what you have on your list, but it doesn’t see to make that wish come true for me! Grocery King on the other hand (available on both iPhone & Android), has a visual item catalog, which helps you see everything you need visually and if you pay them roughly a dollar a month for a subscription, they’ll even tell you where to buy your groceries for the best deal. Plus, plus, plus… with a free account, you can easily add recipes which will sync to your lists as you see fit. So far, Grocery King wins by a LONG SHOT! If you’re going to download one, definitely make it this one.

4. Side Chef

Don’t know how to cook?! No problem. Side Chef, the app (available on iPhone and Android) to the rescue. Explore a new recipe each day on the homepage of the app and check out over 2,500 step-by-step recipes, curated and original. This app appears to be geared toward people who like lots of meat and need instructions (there are audio instructions and timers built into the app, for example). What’s great too is that there are photos of every step of the way, so you really can’t go wrong.

5. Easy Potluck Recipes

45 of them, in fact! I looked for this list because potlucks are fun and all, but you really have to have an idea of what to make without breaking the bank. These are genuinely easy to make, inexpensive, fun, and will make you the popular one. 😉 Personally, I love the homemade cheese dips and such – they are always so tasty and who doesn’t like cheese?

6. Use Wine to Match Tool or App

This is an older website, but it still works brilliantly, especially on a laptop or desktop (might be a bit difficult to navigate on a mobile device, but there’s also a mobile app for iPhone!). Choose the best wine for your meal, based on cuisine, main ingredients, flavor profile, etc. It gives you a tag cloud of the best wine choices and then links you to places you can buy them. I don’t know how much smarter you can get than this – and you just might learn about some new varietals or local blends along the way.

7. Find Your Cocktail Flow

I’m not the greatest at making drinks or even knowing what to make! But, with this tool / website / mixology at Cocktail Flow, you’re in good hands. The website is optimized for mobile and they have an app too. You’ll never need another website, tool, or cookbook for making drinks. Why not mix a drink while you’re cooking or entertaining?

How to Eat on the Cheap in Restaurants

The price of eating out can really take the fun out of sharing a meal, but it doesn’t have to. Save money eating out! Whether you like eating out during your lunch hour, want to go out on a date or don’t feel like cooking, these 19 money saving tips will help you cut costs the next time you venture beyond your kitchen.

1.) Order a salad and an appetizer. Usually the appetizers are the most exciting thing on the menu anyway.

2.) Have breakfast or lunch dates instead of dinner dates.  Dinner tends to be the most expensive meal.

3.) Bring your own wine and pay only the corkage fee. Most restaurants charge 250% of retail. Bleh!

4.) Use printable restaurant coupons you can find online.

5.) If you can’t afford it, don’t attend group functions where everyone ‘equally’ splits the bill or insist that you pay only your portion (not for the 4 drinks Suzie guzzled over sushi).

6.) Use restaurant.com to pay up to 50% less for your bill at a local favorite. Get $25 gift certificates for just $10. Print them now using your computer and redeem them tonight (or whenever you feel like it).

7.) Use kid’s eat free restaurants. MyKidsEatFree.com is a good resource for finding out which restaurants offer free kids meals with the purchase of an adult meal in your area.

8.) Search the local paper for advertisements that serve cheap three course meals during the week. Sometimes, you can find places that are ordinarily pricey that offer extraordinary weekday bargains.

9.  Buy an Entertainment Book to get tons of Buy One, Get One Free coupons for restaurants in your local neighborhood. The book is cheap, so eating out once will close to pay for it. It’s a great way of finding new places too! Most books have over 200 dining discounts. Get it now for 35% of w/free s&h!.

10. Order one soda, one salad, and share a main.  Try to go to places that are known for serving big portions.

11. Don’t order martini’s or foo-foo drinks. If you must drink alcohol, drink draft beer or house wine.

12. Dinner “specials” tend to be a way of selling leftovers at an inflated price. Check the price tag before you begin salivating. However, do check out daily lunch specials as these are usually full meals, at a reduced price for the weekday crowd. Sometimes, the meals even include a drink.

13. Use your senior citizen status to save.

14. Have dinner at home and then go out for dessert and coffee. That’s the fun part anyway.

15. Try to eat places where there is not a full service wait staff.

16. Eat at places where you get free bread, rolls, or chips & salsa so that you can opt to spend less on your main meal. You can also order stuff to go with the free bread, like a caprese salad to make a sandwich or try ordering beans & cheese to go with your chips.

17. Don’t eat out. Hehe… just kidding! 😉

18. Go to Costco and load up on free samples. (This is especially good on Saturday & Sunday)

19. It’s handy to have drinks in your car if you know you’ll be eating on the go. Most places don’t charge for a cup with ice.

How to Attend Free Movie Screenings

Learn how to get free movie screenings in your neighborhood, city, town, or area. If you love movies as much as I do, you’ll want to save on $8-20 movie tickets. They get wicked expensive in San Francisco, but I’m just happy that some of the theaters now have wine and specialty beverages, gourmet food options, and the ability to reserve tickets ahead of time!

All that aside, what you really care about is FREE Movie Tickets! So, let’s get on with it.

How does it work? Our favorite is GoFobo, where you go and enter your zip code.  If there are movie screening tickets available in your area, the movies and locations will be displayed when complete the search. These change all the time and they go fast!

Also, if you register your email with GoFobo, periodically they’ll email RSVP codes that gives you extra access to tickets reserved just for members.  General public seating goes fast, and the RSVP codes are the next level of access available only for those with a special code. They may have seats available for everyone in the beginning, but those go really fast. Those with an RSVP code get access to more tickets.

What is a free movie screening? A film (or movie) screening is the displaying of a motion picture or film, generally referring to a special showing as part of a film’s production and release cycle. To show the film to best advantage, special screenings may take place in plush, low seat-count theaters with very high quality (sometimes especially certified) projection and sound equipment, and can be accompanied by food and drink and spoken remarks by producers, writers, or actors. Special screenings typically occur outside normal theatrical showing hours.  Besides a free movie, you may even get cool stuff.

These tickets go very, very fast and are restricted to specific cities (which vary by movie).

Tip: Screenings are ALWAYS overbooked, so arrive early, as much as an hour early if the film is popular.

Also, bring your ID, especially if the film’s rating may question your age.  Almost always, if you want anything there you’ll need to buy it (popcorn, drink, candy), but the screening entrance ticket is free. And, sometimes you even get free gifts! They like to give out promotional materials to the first people who watch new films.

Where to find tickets: Here’s a list of websites that have free movie screenings:

4 Ways to Make $200+ with Sharing Economy

Looking for ways to make extra money? As more people forgo buying and owning things, in favor or renting or borrowing, there are more opportunities for motivated people to earn money with the booming sharing economy. You could earn $200 or more in your spare time with these popular apps!

Become a Lyft Driver

If you’re at least 21 and have a car that meets Lyft’s requirements you can make up to $35/hr as a Lyft driver! Plus, in certain cities, you could earn bonuses of up to $750 when you sign up and complete 50 rides in the first month!

Bonuses are available in: Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, San Antonio, San Francisco, Portland, Silicon Valley, Washinton D.C., Nashville, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Dallas, Boston, Orange County, and Los Angeles. In order to get the bonus you must enter referral code: CHELSEA47. Want to try Lyft as a passenger? Get $10 off your first ride when you sign up here.

Rent Your House on Airbnb

Do you go out of town a lot? Have a vacation home, a spare room, or even just an air mattress in your living room? You can earn money renting it out to travelers on Airbnb!

On average, a host in Los Angeles renting a private room on Airbnb earns $238/week! Not bad for just renting out an empty room in your house! Sign up by clicking here and you could also earn a $50 bonus after hosting your first guest!

Make Extra Money Driving for Uber

If you’re at least 21 and have a newer car (2000, or 2005 in some cities) then driving for Uber could be one of the best ways to make extra money.

The average Uber driver makes around $19/hr however drivers in some cities report making as much as $30/hr! You could make $200 or more just driving around 10 hours a week in your spare time! Sign up as a driver here.

Rent Your Car on GetAround

You don’t have to be a driver to make money using your car! If your ride spends a lot of time sitting (and whose doesn’t?) you can realistically make $300/month renting it while you’re not using it. Some people even make $1,000+!

Give it a try as a renter first to see how it all works. Sign up using this link and you’ll get $20 of free driving credit, or at least 2 hours of driving time.
Have you tried using any of these ways to make extra money? Tell us your favorite in the comments!